Tonawanda News — A while ago, two old photos were unearthed at the News, one of an unnamed Catholic priest and the other an overhead shot of an unknown parish. After showing the photos to the retired priests at the Cardinal O’Hara priests’ residence and unable to determine who and where the photos came from, Ned Schimminger from the Historical Society of the Tonawandas took a look and could not help.
Then last week, Nick O’Connor, a cousin from Denver, Colorado who designed, made and donated the stained glass windows at the Riviera Theatre, came for a week’s visit. While at our house for dinner, mention was made of the old photos. He not only identified them, but the one of the parish was St. Christopher’s Church and school.
“You can see my house and our garage,” he pointed out. Seems Nick lived on Evergreen in the Town of Tonawanda, just two doors from the school, which he attended. He pointed out the altar in the former parking lot where a “drive through” Mass was said on Sundays. We laughed as he told story after story of him family’s life there and his experiences at the school.
He also knew that the other photo was Msgr. William Solleder, who was assigned as pastor in 1944.
The one thing Nick wanted to do on this trip was ride the Maid of the Mist. So he and my sister, with whom he was staying, decided Wednesday would be a good day .... never mind that the weather forecasters called for rain. And rain it did, but they went anyway.
“The rain was coming in sideways in sheets,” Nick said. He decided going inside was better than getting soaked. However, the two stopped at my house afterwards, both drenched and laughing at the adventure. He said his home is another 1200 feet above Denver and rarely gets rain, but a lot of snow. In fact, he said, the morning of the day he flew to Buffalo, it was snowing. It was 82 degrees here.